At the beginning of March, Nvidia presented a new GeForce Partner Program (GPP) initiative, which claimed to “help gamers know what they are buying,” but basically amounted to Nvidia strong-arming hardware partners and resellers into aligning their gaming brands exclusively with GeForce gear. A mere two months of widespread discontent later, Nvidia is now pulling the plug on the Partner Program, as first reported by AnandTech.
Nvidia’s original plan was to incent companies manufacturing its graphics cards or assembling PCs with Nvidia hardware to participate in the GPP by giving them free promotion and “early access to [its] latest innovations.” Though claiming to provide greater transparency for the user, Nvidia never did disclose the specifics of what it expected in exchange for that privileged status. HardOCP spoke with numerous of Nvidia’s partners off the record, and was told that “in order to have access to the GPP, [Nvidia’s] partners must have their ‘Gaming Brand Aligned Exclusively With GeForce.’”
In practical terms, that would have meant that sub-brands like Acer’s Predator or Asus’ Republic of Gamers would have had to be tied up exclusively with Nvidia hardware if Acer and Asus wanted to be part of Nvidia’s new premier class of supplier (and, given Nvidia’s dominance of the current graphics card market, they absolutely would want to be in that tier). All of this remains unconfirmed information for now, though it seems to be corroborated by Asus introducing a new Arez brand in April dedicated to Radeon graphics cards from AMD.
For its part, Nvidia says it never wanted an exclusive relationship with the manufacturer, who would have been free to “continue to have the ability to sell and promote products from anyone.” Which is a neat way of obfuscating the fact that tying up a company’s gaming brand with Nvidia GeForce cards is almost as good as an exclusive agreement, at least when it comes to marketing budgets and priorities. In its blog post announcing the GPP cessation, Nvidia sounds a plaintive note about “rumors, conjecture, and mistruths,” though it never goes on to elaborate or provide specifics.
The broad consensus, as expressed in HardOCP’s wonderfully detailed report, regarding the GPP was that it was an anti-competitive initiative that would have done more harm than good to consumers’ interests over the long run.